Getting High on Public Space: Old Rollers and Urban Planning

Seen from the perch of the Highline, surrounded by a carefully curated urban wilderbush and postmodern biosculpture, the boisterous cacophony of the honking screeching streets below fades into a minimalist Phillip Glass plain, peppered with sharpened and sweet Sufjan Stevens sonnets and Nina Simone longings.  Sometimes NYC is best viewed and enjoyed from its high points. Most of the city is up here anyway.


Revs and Cost. This tag by these legendary duo echoes despite power washing (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Summer streets are a swirling gritty brew of culture and commerce, happenings and happenstance. To have the opportunity to go to heaven without leaving earth or NYC for that matter is what a well designed public space like the Highline is successful at.  Of course it took years of fostering, finagling, financing.  A melding of vision and vitriol, the outcome has been an astounding urban oasis. Opened in June of 2009 it has been an instant success, attracting thousands daily.


Ceptr (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A once abandoned carcass winding through this lower west side swath of Manhattan, the reclaimed former elevated freight railroad once connected factories and warehouses. Unused for nearly 30 years except by youthful graffiti artists and couples in love, it has debuted as on open pedestrian thoroughfare, a private and public place for citizenry, born from the vision of people and planners. As the second section opened last week the talents of so many are on display : architects, landscape designers, furniture designers, lighting designers and engineers all continue to work on its development (a 3rd phase is in the works) exhausting the limits of their talents and imagination to make this urban gem; a work of art in a city famous for being a difficult place to make things happen.


Photo © Jaime Rojo

Here is a taste of the visual experience on the new section and some of the neighborhood it rises above and amidst; Blending the architecture with a bit of archeology, you can see old graffiti that was on the walls of the buildings next to it. It ads relevance, and interestingly, a sense of history, complimented by new commissioned public art installed along the park’s pathways and today’s Street Art below. Despite efforts to pressure wash some of these burners and rollers, one can still appreciate the outlines of the tags and the remnants of the paint on the brick walls; strains of an eroded and beautiful decay rising from the orchestra.


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


A view of the old rail tracks and the possible future Section 3 (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Sarah Sze. An installation entitled “Still Life With Landscape (Model for Habitat)” Photo © Jaime Rojo


Ms. Sze’s sculpture is for birds, butterflies and insects wtih perches, feeding spots and birdbaths. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Sarah Sze. Animal dwellings against the backdrop of their fellow human dwellings (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Photo © Jaime Rojo


An old Skullphone wheat paste  (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The Park has been successful for business below with some new impresarios bringing amusements for children and adults (next to these balloons there is the beer garden). (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The view looking south (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The view looking East (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Gaia installed this piece right below the park on the 20th St. entrance (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Kenny Scharf right below the park near the 30th Street entrance (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For information about The High Line Park click on the link beow: